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Kim Hildreth and Sarah Schermerhorn Talk Upcoming AVP Champions Cup Series


Kim Hildreth and Sarah Schermerhorn are a professional beach volleyball pair who will be competing in the upcoming AVP Champions Cup Series. Below, they spoke to Just Women’s Sports about the Champions Cup and how they feel about competing amidst the ongoing pandemic. 

The AVP tour is hosting a 3-week tournament to replace the 2020 season which had cancellations and postponements due to COVID. What are your expectations heading into the tournament? 

Sarah: First and foremost, we’re really excited that they were able to put something together this season. Typically, the first event is in May and everybody starts with preseason training in January. It was weird to have it keep getting pushed back and pushed back, not knowing when the first start date would be. When they announced the tournament, we didn’t know how small the event was going to be, so that was a surprise. They’ve limited it to 18 teams total in the mini series. Whereas, in a normal tournament, 12 to 16 teams get in, but there are 40 or 50 teams in the qualifiers. Kim and I feel very fortunate that we had a good season last year and that we’ve put ourselves in a position to compete. We’re the fourth seed in the qualifier. So, we are grateful to be included and excited to take advantage of the opportunity that AVP was able to put together for us in 2020.

You two won your first FIVB medal earlier this year. How do you two plan to ride this momentum during the AVP tournament? And do you two feel pressure to perform given the limited opportunities to play this season?

Kim: We had a little bit of a different path than a lot of other teams. In Florida, we were able to train almost the entire time that everything was shut down because there are private courts. And we live here together, and our coaches do too. So we were pretty fortunate. We’re feeling competent in our team. We know we are a much better team than we were last year, and getting that metal under our belt early in the season feels like another confidence boost for us.

The way this series is set up, it’s so different from the regular AVP tournaments because they are paying all of the athletes who are involved. It’s like we have a guaranteed salary. So I actually feel like there’s less pressure in this tournament because we weren’t even sure that there was going to be a tour at all. We’re going into this tournament feeling just thankful to play. Fortunately, we will get to keep our points for next season and we will be in a good position then as well. So this is just a bonus godsend from AVP.

How do you think it will be playing without fans? 

Sarah: We play a lot of tournaments here in Florida where there’s a beach vibe and a lot of people playing, but not necessarily a lot of fans standing around your specific court. Obviously, it’s fun and engaging, and helps pump your adrenaline up when you have fans all around. I think Kim and I have experience playing in both environments. Ideally, it’s awesome to have fans to ramp up the event, but I know a lot of people are going to be watching from home. For me, it’s just as exciting to be able to give fans something to watch and something to be excited about, even if we don’t get to witness it firsthand.

Do you know your schedule and matchups yet? 

Kim: In theory, yes. The seeding has been released, but the AVP is requiring everyone involved with the event to be tested for COVID every single week. We just took our tests, so everyone is waiting to hear their results back. The seeding could change if someone tests positive for COVID and is unable to play in the event. Obviously, we hope for ourselves and for our competitors that that doesn’t happen because that’s not how you want to compete.

What other types of protocols are they putting in place to keep everyone safe during the tournament?

Kim: They are definitely taking it very seriously. I know that the city gave them guidelines to run the event. They are giving us information as we go on how to keep the event safe. There are going to be a lot of specific safety guidelines.

Sarah: One of the biggest issues was keeping the numbers small for this tournament, too. So, I think step one was minimizing the tournament size and then, like Kim said, there are going to be a lot of strict guidelines to keep players and staff safe.

Do you have any concerns about playing during COVID?

Kim: Everything these days is a little bit concerning health wise. But, I’ve been taking it pretty seriously here in Florida, and Florida has had an extremely high case number recently. Our plan is to travel out there as safely as we can, taking all of the precautions. And then, we are going to pick and choose what events we want to play to make sure that we’re able to compete in the AVP tournament. We feel confident that the AVP is taking it seriously and is going to do everything they can to keep us safe. It’s comforting to know that every single person that’s going to be at the event has tested negative.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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